The Bermuda Karting Club will serve up a high-speed appetiser for the America’s Cup when the Dockyard Grand Prix roars into action tomorrow.

International drivers will compete in a Bermuda street race for the first time as the club sets up in the West End for the fourth time in four years.

A total of 31 karts and eight bikes will race around the clocktower, with around 2,000 spectators expected over the course of the two-day event.

“We are only three weeks out from the America’s Cup,” club president Scott “Skitchy” Barnes said.

“There’s some mega yachts here and some tourists as well, so we’re hoping we pull some of them in too.

“I think the biggest thing, though, is we have international people involved in the racing. It’s the first time we’ve had a street race with international drivers.

“That’s a huge deal. We also have international announcers and an international race co-director too. Marco Oldhafer, he runs the F Series, from New Jersey — he’s coming down for the first time so it will be cool to show him what we’ll all about.

“Canadian Rob Howden, from eKartingNews.com, will be announcing and racing in the LO206 class. And there’s Austin Riley, also from Canada, who is bringing his motoring with him. He’s got a nice chassis so has some good equipment. He’s racing in the Shifter class, and will be one of the favourites for that.”

Riley, 17, who is autistic, is also scheduled to visit schools to raise awareness of the condition, something he has done before in Bermuda. A growing star and poster boy for autism, Barnes expects him to be quick.

“He’s had a whole year of practice time in the Shifter, so he’s definitely going to be fast. I’m not sure if he’s done any street races but he’s definitely going to be a favourite and it’s cool to have him back on island. We like to show him a good time and help get the word out there for autism.”

He added: “In that class I guess the favourites will be myself, Shannon Caisey is fast, while Austin, who has a modified ICC, will have one of the fastest engines out there. Him and Caisey have a little more horsepower than me but we’ll see.”

Elsewhere, there will be full-throttle action in the Cadet class, TAG Senior and TAG Junior, as well the masters LO206 closed-engine class.

In the Cadets, Jamie Newton, son of Oracle Team USA sailor Joey Newton, is the one to watch as he tackles a street race for the first time.

“It will be interesting to see how he adapts to the street,” Barnes said.

“Jacob Hines has been coming on strong, while Nile Bean has been going away with Jamie to race. So those will be the three to look out for.”

He added: “In the TAG Senior, myself, David Barbosa and David Selley will be the front-runners, while the LO206s is up for grabs — that’s anyone’s race.

“You’ve got 12 in that class and any 12 can win. There’s no weak links so it will interesting to watch, and with this track and how tight it is, that class is going to be fun to watch. It should be bumper to bumper.”

For the kart classes, points from three heat races will decide starting positions for the trophy final on the Sunday.

The schedule also features Super Mini Bikes and rental kart races, with America’s Cup sailors, politicians and big-name Bermudians getting behind the wheel.

There will be five rental races on Sunday with five drivers competing in each. The winner of each race goes through to a final.

All drivers and riders will have to embrace the thrill and difficulty of the tight Dockyard track.

“It requires patience,” Barnes said. “You have to decide when you’re going to make a pass and how you’re going to do it. You have got to plan it, set it up. But you have to be aggressive too, which is the opposite of being patient. They kind of go together when you’re racing. When you make a pass you have to decide to do it. You can’t hesitate. The margin for error in a street race, there is none. If you make one little mistake you’re into the curb, bending stuff up.

“And when you have a couple of thousand people watching you and you see them, they’re only 20 feet off the track, that adds to the adrenalin and the excitement.

“Plus, like with any street race, the roads are different from a normal track so with Dockyard, between turns three and four, there’s a little hump in the road, which gets you some air, which is interesting and fun as you have to control the kart.

“Every time we do one of these races, we always get people coming up to us saying, ‘I never knew go-karts were like this on the island’. When people think of go-karts, people think of the fun things you go on at Disney; they don’t think of what we do. So it’s pretty cool to showcase this to Bermuda and show everyone what we’re all about.”

The family friendly event features food vendors, bake sales stalls and a fun castle. Ferries and buses are running.

The action takes place from 9.10am tomorrow and 9.45am Sunday.

Dockyard Grand Prix schedule

Tomorrow

8.45am: Mandatory drivers’ meeting

9.10: Practice session 1

10.10: Practice session 2

11.10: Practice session 3

Heat Race 1

1.20: Cadet

1.40: TAG Senior and Junior

2.00: Super Mini Bikles

2.20: LO206

2.40: 125cc Shifter

Heat Race 2

3.10: Cadet

3.30: Tag Senior and Junior

3.50: Super Mini Bikes

4.10: LO206

4.30: 125cc Shifter

Sunday

9.15: Mandatory drivers’ meeting

9.45: Practice session

10.35 – 11.50: Rental races

Heat 3

1.10: Cadet

1.25: TAG Senior and Junior

1.40: Super Mini Bikes

1.55: LO206

2.10: 125cc Shifters

Finals

2.35: Opening ceremony

2.55: Rental race 

3.15: Cadet

3.40: TAG Senior and Junior

4.05: Super Mini Bikes

4.30: LO206 

4.55: 125cc Shifter

The BKC would like to thank the following sponsors for helping make the Dockyard Grand Prix possible: title sponsors Base, Rubis, Pepsi, Fritolay, e-moo, Red Laser; additional sponsors, Keen, Joe Vieira Trucking Limited, Spar Yard, Hakuna Matata Charters, D & J Construction, Wedco, Bone Fish Bar & Grill, Dynamic Digital and Island Construction


Read the article on Royal Gazette here: http://www.royalgazette.com/motor-sports/article/20170428/dockyard-race-to-have-international-flavour